One Man Band

Captain Cabaret – One Man Band

This is a fun, street-based act aimed at festivals, fêtes, and family-friendly functions. As a self contained act The Captain is able to mix, mingle and walkabout among people, or can perform and move around within a fixed pitch as a street performer would.

Please click here to contact Captain Cabaret and request details on how to bring his unique brand of musical mayhem to your event and put a smile on people’s faces!

This sequinned serenader specialises in pop classics through the ages that might have been played on a cruise ship – this was the inspiration for the cabaret element and nautical theme. However such songs take on a new life when performed by a one man band with a piano accordion, accompanied by back-worn bass drum, a pair of hi hat cymbals and various hooters, whistles, jingles and lord knows what else. Still great songs – but entertaining in a rather different way!

This is something of an indulgence for Bill – he has always been drawn to the musical circus that is the classic one man band. In January 2017, he said this out loud to friend and mentor Pete Moser. By late March they’d built a OMB rig and Captain Cabaret dropped anchor and disembarked onto an unsuspecting world.

Captain Cabaret at Morecambe Seaside Festival, 2017

Bill with friend Hugh Castle and New Yorker Joe Di Carlo in Amsterdam

Captain Cabaret – The Backstory according to Bill

“I was always transfixed by street performers as a kid. I knew I was being drawn in by their techniques and banter, but was okay with it and enjoyed the drama of it all. In my early 20s I got the tiniest hit of being the street performer, trying to sell a show I was performing in on the Edinburgh fringe, for two years running. But I was just as content watching the jugglers, magicians and comedic music/banter busking acts as I was concerned about all the proper shows that were on. Buskers are so much more than just the songs. It’s the charm, expertise and showmanship with which each song is delivered that really stands out. On the street you’ve got about 5 seconds to win people over. I really wanted a go at this. Well – the following summer, having done two years at the fringe, I went on a busking trip to Amsterdam with two friends, for 6 weeks. I had a Fender Rhodes piano amplified through an old radio/cassette player. Now I really was a street performer. I loved it – playing outdoors, having to really entertain to get the attention, the thrill of bottling up and counting the Guilders. We would play a 20 minute set to a café terrace – the standard was generally high among the performers that queued for their spot. I enjoyed being part of that community of street entertainers – such a talented kooky mix of people.

One of the guys we met and befriended was a quietly spoken Canadian who did a one man band show.  He didn’t do the terrace thing, he worked the squares, doing his show and gathering a crowd. His schtick was that he had a massive repertoire and played requests. It was quite traditional – drum on back, hi hat on top. He had mounted a tiny battery-powered mini marshall amp on each shoulder strap – he had a lapel mic plugged into one, his acoustic guitar into the other. A bit tinny but gave him just enough extra oomph. I loved it and was mesmerized by this one man marvel.

So – this Amsterdam trip really left its mark on me, in that I was enjoying entertaining, not just playing. I liked working the streets and the satisfaction of creating a show out of nothing on a random piece of tarmac. And I was drawn to the OMB format. So fast forward about 15 years – many bands, experiences, dull office jobs later – and I’m working for More Music, lead by one of the most famous OMB’s in the country (and the fastest OMB in the world)! And here I am now, finally realising this slightly odd ambition that has been lying dormant all this time. Funny how things work out isn’t it? ” 


Captain Cabaret at Glasson Summer Fair 2018